TagDemocratic primaries

Primary watch: number of contested state legislative primaries is up 25% compared to 2020

There are 25% more contested state legislative primaries this year than in 2020, including 55% more Republican primaries and 8% more top-two/four primaries. Democratic primaries are down 9%.

These figures include elections in 37 states that account for 4,672 of 6,166 state legislative seats up for election this year (76%).

A primary is contested when there are more candidates running than available nominations, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

Since our last update on July 25, we have added post-filing deadline data from Minnesota. Overall, 11 states in this analysis have Democratic trifectas, 19 have Republican trifectas, and seven have divided governments.

Of the 37 states in this analysis, 34 are holding partisan primaries. Three states—California, Nebraska, and Washington—use top-two primaries.

The number of Democratic primaries has increased in 11 states, decreased in 19, and remains the same in three. The number of Republican primaries has increased in 30 states and decreased in four. The table below shows partisan statistics for the three states with the largest increases and decreases so far.

In addition to a state’s political makeup and party activity, redistricting is another reason for an increase in primary competitiveness.

After redistricting, some states—like Arkansas—hold elections for every district, while in other years, fewer districts are up each cycle. This creates more opportunities for primaries to occur. Or, like in West Virginia, redistricting creates new districts and, by extension, more primary opportunities. Currently, the total number of possible primaries affected by these changes is up 1.4% compared to 2020.

For states like New Mexico and South Carolina, where only one chamber is up for election every two years, only those chambers holding elections in 2022 that also held elections in 2020 are included.

Ballotpedia will continue to update these figures as information becomes available. In addition to this analysis, Ballotpedia collects competitiveness statistics at all levels of government, available here. This data is calculated following candidate filing deadlines and readjusted at the time of the primary to account for any changes to candidate lists.

Incumbent Galvin faces Sullivan in Massachusetts’ secretary of state Democratic primary on Sept. 6

Incumbent William Galvin and Tanisha Sullivan are running in the Democratic primary for Massachusetts secretary of state on September 6, 2022. 

Galvin won his first term in 1994 and was re-elected six times before the 2022 election. In this period, he faced Democratic primary opposition twice. In the 2018 primary, he defeated Josh Zakim, 67% to 33%. 

According to Matt Stout of the Boston Globe, Galvin is “the only incumbent Democratic secretary of state being targeted within his own party.”

Galvin said his experience was important given the increased focus on elections, saying to the Boston Globe, “This is a critical time for democracy. That’s why I think I can provide a unique service. Probably the biggest shift is the national climate, the importance of elections. I believe I can continue to do it effectively. I don’t believe anyone else can [do it as well] at this point.”

Sullivan’s professional experience includes serving as the Chief Equity Office for Boston Public Schools, president of the Boston Branch of the NAACP, a corporate counsel for Sanofi Genzyme, and a fellow for CEO Action for Racial Equity. She said she would do more to promote voting among minority communities, saying at the state party convention, “Despite record voter turnout in 2020, hear me on this, voters from some of our most vulnerable communities still saw the lowest voter turnout across Massachusetts, leaving behind far too many voices…Simply put, Massachusetts needs a secretary of state who fights on the ground with us every day, fighting for the democracy we deserve.”

Sullivan received the Democratic Party’s official endorsement with the support of 62.4% of delegates at the state convention in June 2022. According to Colin A. Young of the State House News Service, Sullivan “was supported by more than 2,500 delegates while Galvin was backed by about 1,500 delegates.”

Young also wrote that “Galvin has lost at the party convention but then prevailed in the party primary three times previously: in 1990 when he ran for treasurer; in 1994 when he first ran for secretary of state; and in 2018 when the upstart campaign of Josh Zakim won the party’s endorsement before being crushed by Galvin when the contest extended beyond the most hardcore party insiders.”

Sullivan said she thought the state party convention endorsement was very important: “2020, in many respects, was a turning point for folks across the country and our understanding about just how important the office of secretary of state is. More people understand the critical role that this office has to play. And I believe that that’s going to make a difference. People are paying attention.”

Galvin said he wanted the support of party delegates at the convention but didn’t think it would decide the primary’s outcome, saying, “I’ve actually not been the endorsee of the convention on three different occasions and I’ve won by more every single time. So I guess I have a mixed opinion. I think the difference between now and four years ago is I think, more than ever before, people recognize the importance of secretary of state, not just here but everywhere in the country.”

Prior to the 2022 elections, the last Republican to serve as secretary of state in Massachusetts was Frederick Cook, who left office in 1949.

Additional reading:

Massachusetts Secretary of State

William Galvin (Secretary of the Commonwealth)

Tanisha Sullivan

Wes Moore projected to win Maryland Democratic gubernatorial primary

Major media outlets projected Wes Moore as the winner of Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. With uncounted mail-in votes remaining, Moore received 33.8% of the vote, followed by Tom Perez with 28.3% and Peter Franchot with 21.5%.

Moore worked in the finance sector and as CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, in addition to writing books about race, equity, and opportunity in America. Moore’s key policies included accelerating the state’s adoption of a $15 minimum wage, public safety and criminal justice, and increasing equity in public transportation. U.S. Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), at least 33 members of the legislature, and the Maryland State Education Association endorsed Moore. 

Moore will face Dan Cox (R), David Lashar (L), and Kyle Sefcik (I) in the Nov. 8 general election. Three independent forecasters rate the general election as Lean Democratic or Likely Democratic. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is term-limited and not running for re-election.

Sean Maloney and Alessandra Biaggi running in New York’s 17th Congressional District Democratic primary

Sean Maloney and Alessandra Biaggi are running in the Democratic Party primary for New York’s 17th Congressional District on Aug. 23, 2022. Mondaire Jones (D) has represented the 17th Congressional District since 2021 but is running in New York’s 10th Congressional District this election cycle.

Maloney has represented New York’s 18th Congressional District since 2013 and has served as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee since 2020. Maloney was a candidate for New York’s attorney general in 2018, but lost to Letitia James in the Democratic primary. Maloney also served as a senior advisor to President Bill Clinton (D) and first deputy secretary in former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s (D) administration. Maloney said he is “focused on getting results for my neighbors in the Hudson Valley – despite gridlock and dysfunction in Washington.”

Biaggi has represented District 34 in the New York State Senate since 2019. Biaggi also served as lead counsel to the NYS Council for Women and Girls, as the deputy national operations director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, as the assistant general counsel for the Office of Storm Recovery, and as a legal fellow for New York State Homes and Community Renewal. Biaggi said she is running for Congress “to protect and defend our democracy, to halt the climate crisis, to grow our supply of affordable housing, and to transform our government and economy to serve us all.”

The 17th Congressional District’s boundaries shifted as a result of redistricting. According to data from The New York Times, President Joe Biden (D) received 60% of the vote in the old district, but would have received 55% of the vote in the new district. The New York Times‘ Nicholas Fandos said congressional redistricting in the state “erased outright gains that Democrats had counted on based on the Legislature’s map and made other Democratic swing seats more competitive.”

According to Axios‘ Andrew Solender, “Maloney stoked anger from the left by running in a redrawn district mostly represented by Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), a progressive freshman who is now running for an open seat in New York City miles away from his home turf. Biaggi, who had been running in an open district that was similarly upended by redistricting, then opted to run against Maloney.”

Biaggi said Maloney was “a selfish corporate Democrat” and that “having the head of the campaign arm not stay in his district, not maximize the number of seats New York can have to hold the majority” was hurtful to the party. Maloney said, “From my point of view, I’m just running from where I landed. If someone else is looking at the district, as well, obviously we will try to work through that as colleagues and friends.”

As of July 2022, The Cook Political Report and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rated the district Lean Democratic, while Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rated it Likely Democratic. In the previous election, Jones defeated Maureen McArdle Schulman (R) 59% to 35%.

Seven candidates running in Democratic primary for governor of Hawaii

Seven candidates are running in the Democratic primary for governor of Hawaii on Aug. 13. Incumbent David Ige (D) is term-limited.

Vicky Cayetano, Joshua Green, and Kaiali’i Kahele lead in polling and media attention.

Cayetano co-founded Hawaii’s largest laundry company and served as president and CEO for 34 years. Cayetano said, “My record of building a business of a thousand employees and supporting our community is one of action and results.” She said, “I have a vision, I make payroll, know how to be a CEO. Government should be run like business. We keep talking about the same issues, and we need a new perspective. It’s time for a new perspective to solve the problems.” In 1997, Cayetano married Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano (D), who served as governor until 2002.

Green is Hawaii’s current lieutenant governor and an emergency room physician. He said, “I’m running for Governor because Hawaii needs elected leaders we can trust — to tell us the truth, keep us safe and informed, to care about working families, and to be transparent and accountable to the people.” Green highlighted his role serving as COVID liaison while lieutenant governor. A campaign ad said, “Hawaii got through COVID with the lowest infection rate in the nation.”

Kahele, a veteran and lieutenant colonel in the Hawaii Air National Guard, was elected to represent Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020. Kahele said, “Congress established our great state in 1959 on the condition that the State of Hawaiʻi would establish and manage the ceded Public Land Trust for the benefit of Native Hawaiians and the general public. Ensuring that the state restores its kuleana to manage this public trust is a foundation of my platform for governor.” Kahele says he is “running for governor on a grassroots, publicly funded campaign[.]” He said, “While other candidates are taking corporate money and checks of up to $6,000, I will not accept donations from any individual of more than a hundred bucks.”

Affordable housing has been a central theme in the race. Cayetano’s campaign website said, “[I]n addition to accelerating housing projects that are specific to Native Hawaiians and are taking place within the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL), I would make the availability of affordable rental housing my highest priority. I propose a massive five year recurring statewide affordable rental housing plan to significantly increase the number of affordable rental housing units for Hawaii’s families.” 

As part of Green’s 10-point housing plan, he said that he would “[i]mmediately issue an executive order to all state and county housing agencies to speed up construction of affordable housing by eliminating red tape, streamlining processes and approvals, and coordinating efforts to address the crisis.” 

Kahele said he would “[build] targeted workforce housing; [develop] fee mechanisms through tax-exempt bonds and bond activity caps; and [build] out housing plans specific to urban Honolulu and the rest of the state.”

Cayetano, Green, and Kahele disagree on the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope project, a plan to construct a $2.65 billion telescope on the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano. Cayetano supports the project, Kahele opposes the plans as they stand, and Green expressed disappointment in the handling of the project, saying he supported large projects like the telescope if they were done with respect between cultures.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser‘s Dan Nakaso, the candidates also disagree on the legalization of recreational marijuana. Nakaso wrote, “Kahele and Green support legalizing recreational marijuana, with caveats, while Cayetano is opposed.”

Major independent observers rate the general election as solid Democratic or safe Democratic. Ige was first elected in 2014 and won re-election in 2018 by a margin of 29 percentage points. Democrats have had trifecta control of Hawaii state government since 2011.

Also running in the primary are David “Duke” Bourgoin, Richard Kim, Clyde Lewman, and Van Tanabe.

Four candidates running in Democratic gubernatorial primary in Florida

Charlie Crist, Cadance Daniel, Nikki Fried, and Robert Willis are running in the Democratic primary election for Governor of Florida on August 23, 2022. Crist and Fried have received the most media attention and endorsements.

Crist was elected to the U.S. House in 2016. He served as governor from 2007 to 2011, attorney general from 2003 to 2007, state education commissioner from 2001 to 2003, and in the state senate from 1992 to 1998. Crist was elected to state office as a Republican before becoming an independent in 2010 and a Democrat in 2012. Crist has campaigned on five steps he says would make it easier to vote in the state, including reversing 2021 changes to the state’s mail ballot policies, providing clean water, and easing transitions for out-of-state transplants. Three members of Florida’s U.S. House delegation, 22 members of the state legislature, the Florida Education Association, and the Florida AFL-CIO endorsed Crist.

Fried was elected as agriculture commissioner in 2018. Fried is the only Democrat to hold statewide elected office in Florida. Prior to holding elected office, she worked as a public defender, attorney in private practice, and government affairs advocate for the marijuana industry. Fried has campaigned on reducing housing costs, lowering the price of homeowner’s insurance, a $15 minimum wage, and creating a small business growth fund as key issues. Four members of the state legislature and the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida endorsed Fried.

Crist’s campaign has focused on restoring civility, ending divisive politics, and working across the political aisle. CNN’s Steve Contorno compared his campaign strategy to that of President Joe Biden (D) in 2020. Fried’s campaign has focused on the idea of electing a new face in Florida politics and has cited Crist’s loss in 2014 to then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) and Biden’s three-point 2020 loss in the state as reasons voters should nominate her.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is running for re-election. Republicans currently hold both a trifecta and a triplex in the state, meaning they hold majorities in both chambers of the state legislature along with the positions of governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. Florida is one of 20 states to have both a Republican trifecta and a Republican triplex.

Eight candidates are running in the August 9 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin

Eight candidates are running in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin on August 9, 2022. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, and former State Rep. Tom Nelson lead in fundraising and media attention. Kou Lee, Steven Olikara, Peter Peckarsky, and Darrell Williams are also running.

The incumbent is Sen. Ron Johnson (R), who was first elected to the Senate in 2010 when he defeated incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold (D). 

Wisconsin is one of two states holding a U.S. Senate election in 2022 with a Republican incumbent that President Joe Biden carried in the 2020 presidential election. Wisconsin is also one of six states with one Democratic and one Republican U.S. Senator. 

Simone Pathe of CNN wrote in July 2022 that this “primary is the last truly unsettled Democratic contest in a competitive general election state.” 

Barnes was elected lieutenant governor in 2018 and served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 2013 to 2017. According to Isaac Yu of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Barnes entered the Senate race as the most well-known candidate” and “is running on issues that range from rebuilding the middle class to bringing manufacturing back to Wisconsin to supporting family farms.” Barnes received endorsements from the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

Godlewski was elected Wisconsin state treasurer in 2018, defeating Travis Hartwig (R) 51% to 47%. Godlewski’s website said that as treasurer, “she ensured the state invested in renewable energy projects, broadband expansion, and supported Wisconsin small businesses — leading to record funding for technology and books in public schools…Sarah worked with Governor Tony Evers to secure $92.7 million for struggling Wisconsinites at risk of losing their homes [during the Covid-19 pandemic].” EMILY’s List, the National Organization for Women PAC, former U.S. Rep Steve Kagen (D-Wisc.), and five state legislators endorsed Godlewski.

Lasry is a vice president of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Lasry previously worked in President Barack Obama’s (D) administration and chaired Milwaukee’s bid committee to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Lasry described his reasons for running on his campaign website, saying, “I want to give Tammy Baldwin a true partner in DC to put money back in the pockets of hard working Wisconsinites and bring some real change and real results for the people of Wisconsin. I am going to the Senate to get real results for Wisconsin. I will fight every day to bring back resources to our state and deliver legislation that will help Wisconsinites in their everyday lives.” Lasry received endorsements from seven Wisconsin labor union chapters, Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, Wisconsin Court of Appeals justice Joe Donald, and two state legislators.

Nelson is the Outagamie County Executive, having been elected in 2011. Nelson served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 2005 to 2011 and was the chamber’s majority leader from 2008 to 2011. Nelson listed his top priorities on his campaign website, saying, “As your U.S. Senator, I’ll relentlessly fight a corrupt system to promote Main Street solutions for workers, farmers, small businesses and confront the existential threat of climate change.” His website also said, “As executive of one of the state’s most-populous counties since 2011, he’s made it one of the nation’s best-managed. His county has an Aaa bond rating, a declining tax rate and fully funded public services.” Six Wisconsin labor union chapters, Our Wisconsin Revolution, New Deal America, and two incumbent state legislators endorsed Nelson.

Additional reading:

Ron Johnson (Wisconsin)

United States Senate election in Wisconsin, 2016

Andy Levin and Haley Stevens running in incumbent-vs.-incumbent Democratic primary in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Andy Levin and U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens are running in a Democratic primary for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District on August 2, 2022. This race is one of several incumbent-vs.-incumbent primaries occurring for the U.S. House in 2022 as a result of congressional redistricting.

Michigan lost one congressional district following the 2020 census, and when the lines were redrawn, the new 11th district included areas represented by multiple Democratic incumbents. According to data from Daily Kos, the new 11th district contains about 45% of the old 11th district, which Stevens has represented in Congress since 2019. The new 11th contains about 25% of the old 9th district, which Levin has represented in Congress since 2019.

Levin’s campaign website says of the new 11th district that Levin’s “roots in Oakland County, Michigan, go back well over 100 years” and that his father Sandy Levin (D) represented parts of the new 11th in the old 9th district from 1983 to 2019. When asked why he decided to run for election in the new 11th district instead of the new 9th, Levin says, “I’m running where I live, and I’m very happy about that decision, no regrets.”

Levin serves on the Education and Labor and Foreign Affairs committees in the 117th Congress. He is also a member of the Progressive caucus. Levin’s campaign says he has a progressive record in Congress, citing his co-sponsorship of bills to implement the Green New Deal and Medicare for All and his endorsements from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Levin also emphasizes his background on the campaign trail, saying of his former job as a union organizer for the national AFL-CIO and SEIU, “It’s my life. I’m the union organizer in Congress.”

Stevens serves on the Education and Labor and Science, Space & Technology committees in the 117th Congress. She helped launch the Women in STEM Caucus in 2020, which says that its goal is to support and increase the number of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Prior to her election to Congress in 2018, Stevens served as the chief of staff for the U.S. Auto Rescue Task Force under former President Barack Obama (D).

Stevens has called the incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary unfortunate, saying, “No one asked for this…In ten months, we are not going to be colleagues and that is not good. That is not good for Michigan. That’s not good for the Democratic Party. It’s not good for the country.” Stevens responded to Levin’s statements about his progressive record by criticizing his positions on abortion and Israel.

Citing her endorsements from Planned Parenthood and EMILY’s List, Stevens said she is a voice for women in Congress and unequivocally supports a woman’s right to choose. When Levin argued in a primary debate that he has taken more action on this issue in Congress, Stevens said, “Was that just the sound of another 60-something year-old white man telling me how to talk about choice? I think my position is clear.”

Stevens said she is “proud to unequivocally support the Jewish state” and criticized Levin’s comments on the treatment of Palestinians, as well as his Two State Solutions Act in Congress. Levin has described himself as “perhaps the leading Jewish member of Congress to try to actually take action to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution.” The American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Democratic Majority for Israel PAC disagree with Levin’s positions and endorsed Stevens. The Times of Israel has referred to this Democratic primary as a “bellwether of American Jewish politics,” explaining that “The new 11th District is believed to include about 40,000 of the 70,000 Jews living in the Detroit area.”

Seventeen candidates running in New York’s 10th Congressional District Democratic primary

Seventeen candidates are running in New York’s 10th Congressional District Democratic primary on August 23, 2022. Candidates receiving significant media attention are U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones, who was elected in 2020 to represent the 17th District and is running in the 10th after redistricting; former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; prosecutor Daniel Goldman; former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman; state Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou; New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera; and state Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon.

The New York Times wrote that the redrawn 10th District includes “some of New York’s most politically engaged and diverse neighborhoods: Greenwich Village, Wall Street, Chinatown, Park Slope, Sunset Park and even parts of Borough Park, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish stronghold.” The Times called the primary “a contest not so much of ideas — almost every major candidate has condemned threats to abortion rights and bemoaned the lack of strict limits on guns — as of brute force, blunt ambition and identity politics.”

Axios called the district “a potential venue for Democrats to expose various internal rifts as candidates fight for a simple plurality of the vote, where the winner can advance with far less than 50%.”

The 17th District Jones was elected to does not overlap with the redrawn 10th. Jones’ campaign spokesman Bill Neidhardt said that Jones “refused to primary fellow Black progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman when his residence was drawn into Bowman’s district. … He also wanted to avoid a member-on-member primary with Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.” Maloney was elected to represent the 18th District starting in 2013 and is running in the redrawn 17th.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the 10th District incumbent, is running in the redrawn 12th. Twenty-eight percent of the redrawn 10th District’s population is from the old 10th.

Davis defeated Collins in Illinois’ 7th Congressional District on June 28, 2022

Incumbent Danny K. Davis, Kina Collins, and Denarvis Mendenhall ran in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ 7th Congressional District on June 28, 2022. Davis, who has represented the district in Congress since 1997, won the primary with 52.3% of the vote. Collins received 45.3% of the vote, and Mendenhall received 2.4%.

Davis focused his campaign on familiarity with the district’s voters, saying, “This is my community…This is my home. This is my life.” Davis’ campaign yard signs read, “Re-elect Danny Davis. He’s someone you know,” and his campaign website highlighted his congressional voting record and seniority on congressional committees and caucuses. Collins’ campaign did not draw a contrast with Davis on policy but said Collins would provide the district with a fresh voice in Washington. Collins emphasized the fact that Davis has represented the district since she was in kindergarten and said that it was time for a change. She said, “I’m not just running to be the congresswoman in the Illinois 7th, but to talk about a vision for the Democratic Party, which includes young people, people of color, women, and those who do not come from traditional political backgrounds.” Collins’ campaign raised more money than Davis’, according to reports from the Federal Election Commission. Analysts described this primary race as a bellwether for generational tensions within the Democratic Party.

Prior to serving in Congress, Davis served on the Chicago City Council for 11 years as alderman of the 29th Ward. He also served on the Cook County Board of Commissioners from 1990 to 1996. He was elected to the U.S. House to represent Illinois’ 7th Congressional District in 1996. Davis served on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Progressive Caucus. Davis’ re-election was endorsed by President Joe Biden (D), Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D), Illinois Senators Tammy Duckworth (D) and Dick Durbin (D), and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Collins became a protest organizer in the wake of the Chicago police shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014 and founded the Chicago Neighborhood Alliance, a group describing its goal as to help end gun violence through civic engagement, in 2017. Collins lost to Davis in Illinois’ 7th Congressional District’s 2020 Democratic primary. She also served on the transition team and task force for gun violence prevention under President Joe Biden (D). Collins’ campaign was endorsed by several aldermen in the 7th District and the national political organizations Indivisible, Justice Democrats, and National Organization for Women.

Before the primary, the Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Inside Elections all rated Illinois’ 7th Congressional District as a solid/safe Democratic seat, meaning that as the winner of the Democratic primary, Davis is very likely to win the general election as well.